Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shamefully Shoeless

What is it about parenting that makes strangers think they have a right to barge in? 

I let my 2 year old walk through the store with out shoes on.  Gasp.  You would think I was asking her to walk on hot coals.  Background – my 2 year old is a developmentally appropriate strong willed, energetic and independent girl.  She wanted to walk and I am trying very hard to encourage her to walk WITH me and not bolt.  She was doing beautifully today.  She started out in the shoes and then just didn’t want to wear them anymore.  Because I have no problems with barefoot kids, and because she was doing SO WELL staying with me, I didn’t push the shoe thing.  I didn’t even mention it.  I let her put the shoes in the cart and we moved on.

A woman about 15 years older than myself approached me and simply stated “I wouldn’t let my child walk through here in bare feet”.  Then she gave me that look.  You know the one.  The one you give your own kids when you scold them with out opening your mouth.  I tend to reserve it for more major offenses.  I responded “okay”.  Not in an “okay you are right how could I ever be so foolish” but rather in an “okay so what” tone.   She walked off.  The three women next to me were flabbergasted.  One asked it that was my mother.  The other two mumbled in confusion about what she meant until I pointed out my daughter was offensively barefoot.   

This post is not about shoes and their value to society.  Shoes were invented to protect the feet and they do a brilliant job at that.  This is about being respectful and being polite.   

Parenthood is a public profession.  We are out there at the grocery, in line at the bank, on the airplane next to you, and in the doctor’s office waiting aside you.  Not for one minute do we ‘forget’ that we are parenting. 

You don’t need to remind us. 

Not for one minute are we unaware that our children influence the environment around us. 

We have tried to carefully orchestrate the office visit, or trip to the store, or plane ride to minimize the risk of our child causing anyone any inconvenience.  We have had sleepless nights dreading the event.  We have planned and checked and double-checked.  And sometimes we have made a professional decision to do something differently than you would. 

And that decision is based on our circumstance, our family, our parent-child dyadic relationship.  So if you really want to be helpful keep your mouth shut and say a prayer for me and my family.  That will help loads more than snarky comments or overbearing gestures. 

So here is the question to you parents out there… when DO you think it is okay to intervene?  Do you have a similar story to share? Any other thoughts are welcome as well!

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